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This weekend, Allston Melee hosted the Allston Melee Bender; a 48-hour lifestream focused on helping raise money to fund their Super Smash Bros. Melee content creation. The Bender featured an online shop, numerous side events and, of course, a Melee Singles bracket for East Coast players. Here are some of the biggest results from the Allston Melee Bender.

Gahtzu completes a perfect week

Jason “Gahtzu” Diehl won the Allston Melee Bender. That feat is impressive in its own right, however, the fact that this was his fourth tournament victory within a week elevates this win to the next level. Gahtzu entered four double-elimination brackets this past week; Training Mode Tournaments #21, Xanadu 399, Uncle Sam’s Maple Syrup #17 and Allston Melee’s event. He won every single one of them.

At the Allston Melee tournament, Gahtzu cruised through the winners bracket relatively unopposed. He defeated Jess “Kuyashi” Luce 3-1 and Anthony “Zealot” J. 3-0. However, winners semis brought a more difficult opponent in the form of Dawud “Aklo” Rahman.

Aklo has had great success in the Captain Falcon match-up, having previously defeated Edgard “n0ne” Sheleby, Johnny “S2J” Kim and even Gahtzu himself. Nevertheless, Aklo could take only a single game before Gahtzu won the set with his signature 20GX punish game, which leans on Captain Falcon’s strong tech chasing abilities. From there, Gahtzu won a pair of sets over fellow Floridian Brandon “Panda” Orooji. Panda only managed to take one game between both winners finals and grand finals.

Panda has his best run of the online era

Panda has spent little time at the forefront of the competitive Melee scene. He barely snuck into the last top 100, ranking 97th on the 2019 MPGR. Panda seemed to have a bigger breakthrough at Genesis 7, where he upset both Michael “Nintendude” Brancato and Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson. But, when the pandemic struck, Panda returned to more modest online performances

As a result, Panda’s second-place finish at the Allston Melee Bender marks his most significant performance of the online era. He employed Fox’s extensive combo game to earn a pair of 3-1 wins over Sheik players, Ben Strandmark and Taylor “DrLobster” Baldwin.

In winners semis, Panda secured a dominant 3-0 win over Luis “TheSWOOPER” Olivo, who earned his spot in top eight by upsetting Cody “iBDW” Schwab’s Sheik and Fox. Though he had no answers for Gahtzu, Panda managed to finish his run with another comfortable 3-1 win over Ben in losers finals.

Ben overcomes difficult match-ups en route to third place

After suffering an early upset against Panda, Ben faced a difficult road to top eight. Specifically, he had to face a personal bracket demon of his, Colin “Colbol” Green, in the top eight qualifier. Despite his previous struggles against Colbol, Ben employed a strong punish game off of his precise neutral in order to conquer Colbol 3-1.

In top eight, Ben received a bye after iBDW dropped out of the bracket. From there, he eliminated TheSWOOPER 3-1 before encountering another tough match-up against Aklo. In addition to playing Fox, the character that sent Ben to losers in the first place, Aklo, is notorious for rarely losing to Sheik players. Nevertheless, Ben came out on top after a five-game set. He went on to lose to Panda for a respectable third place finish.

 

Mastery of the mid-set character switch eludes iBDW

Under normal circumstances, iBDW would have been the favorite to win the Allston Melee Bender. However, he decided to use the event as training grounds for his Sheik, a character he is developing to combat Zain Naghmi’s Marth. This tournament showed that not only is his Sheik not of the same calibre as his Fox as of yet, but also that he has yet to master the art of switching between characters mid-set.

His set against TheSWOOPER represents the best microcosm of this trend. After losing game one as Sheik, iBDW brought out his signature Fox in order to keep his winners bracket run alive. But TheSWOOPER managed to beat his Fox as well. In response, iBDW switched back to Sheik and lost again, giving TheSWOOPER an unexpected 3-0 victory.

Afterward, iBDW stuck to using a single character per set. He eliminated David “Kalvar” Coyne and Michael “Clutch” Fabiunke with Sheik, and Zealot with Fox. Ultimately, iBDW dropped out of the tournament altogether, having learned that it might be a long time before he can reliably turn to a secondary character midway through a set.


Dylan Tate is a student in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.


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